The Honda CB Unicorn 160 is the company’s much awaited 160cc motorcycle but isn’t a sporty offering. Honda is unlikely to pitch it directly against the FZ or Gixxer.
When Honda announced it plans to launch a 160cc motorcycle in India, everyone was very excited and was expecting other bikes in the segment to face a lot of heat from the CBR maker. Now pictures of the upcoming 160cc motorcycle have leaked (thanks to our reader Suyash Kaul) and there are mixed reactions as it is nothing but the Honda CB Unicorn 160. This 160cc Honda bike was such a well kept secret that everyone started speculating as to how the top sellers in the 150cc space will face tough competition from Honda.
Honda’s attempt to get popular in the premium 150cc space hasn’t borne fruition. The CB Unicorn was very successful and that led Honda to launch a premium version in the form of the CB Dazzler which did not sell as much as it deserved to. The Unicorn continued to sell well and still manages to do upwards of 15,000 units a month. Meanwhile Honda replaced the Dazzler with the CB Trigger and the latter couldn’t make much of an impact, selling under 5000 units a month while the FZ manages to sell four times of it. The Trigger is a good product but isn’t exceptional and just being good isn’t enough anymore.
That brings the Honda CB Unicorn 160 to the equation. Honda has realised its 150cc motorcycle needs to have the famous Unicorn name in it as that brand is the trusted choice of mature individuals in this displacement category. What Honda is doing in the 150cc segment is nothing different from what it has been doing in the entry-level commuter space, taking the same bike and offering multiple variants (Dream Yuga, Dream Neo and CD110 are essentially the same bikes). But Honda is missing the point, the Trigger did not fail because of the name.
The problem with Honda is, it wants to offer a very commuter-ish feel in its bikes and that’s where the Yamaha FZ has excelled by giving a big bike feel to riders. The same formula was adopted by Suzuki for its Gixxer. All bikes in this segment (except Honda and Hero) come with an engine kill switch while the Yamaha and Suzuki also get big fat rubber and a sporty feel to it. Not many want to buy a 150cc bike which gives you the feel of riding a lower capacity commuter motorcycle.
Coming to the Honda Unicorn 160, the bike itself is very similar to the CB Trigger which could be axed as there is no point in keeping both the bikes on sale (Honda is known to quietly pull the plug on its models by first removing them from its website). The bike gets a full chain case and the length of the bike exceeds the wheelbase, making the tail piece look quite weird. The tail light is new and different but not really striking and the saree guard seems to be designed well but that’s the only place where design work has been done.
Single-piece seat and grab rails further accentuate this as a commuter bike, so does the single-piece handlebar. Other regular things like a full digital instrument cluster and ankle shift gear lever are regulars on the Trigger and Unicorn respectively. Set to go on sale in December 2014, the Honda CB Unicorn 160 will be priced at a slight premium over the Trigger and will draw power from a new 160cc engine, producing around 14.5 BHP of power. Still, if you want something sporty, you know its the other Japanese rivals in the 150cc segment who will meet your requirements.